Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
Students for a Democratic Society stands in unconditional solidarity with the railroad workers of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED-IBT), SMART-TD, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen as they fight determinedly for a fair contract and livable conditions on and off the job. We stand with them in their rejection of the appalling deal crafted by the Biden Administration, and we stand with them in defending their right to strike against the anti-labor, union busting attacks of President Biden and the US Congress, who are attempting to force workers to accept this unfair contract in violation of their rights.
The conditions railroad workers have been forced to bear for years are nothing short of inhumane. Engineers and conductors don’t have shift schedules, but are instead on call 24/7, with no regards to their personal or family time, and are held to a strict attendance policy, where they are docked points for missing work for any reason. Mechanics, electricians and others are also forced into grueling conditions. Workers are provided no paid sick leave and getting paid leave in general is an incredibly burdensome effort. All this and more during a time where the biggest railroad corporations in the country have raked in more than $10 billion in revenue.
In the face of these conditions and the railroads’ refusal to negotiate on any issue, several railroad unions, encompassing over 100,000 railroad workers, filed their intent to strike in August and September of this year. Soon after, the Biden administration scrambled to craft contract terms. While most of the rail unions ratified it by a small margin, BMWED, SMART-TD, IBB and BRS, representing a majority of railroaders, voted against it, and prepared to strike to fight back for their rights on the job, setting a tentative strike date of December 9th, while the other rail unions made clear that they would respect the picket line.
In violation of the right to strike and the rights of workers and their unions, President Biden set out to break the strike before it could happen and force the contract on workers. The house and senate were quick to follow, voting to force the deal onto the unions. While the House voted to add 7 paid sick days to it—barely half of what rail workers were demanding—the Senate voted against it, leaving the deal the same as it was when workers voted it down.
We demand that Biden and Congress respect the right to strike, and keep their hands off railroad workers and their unions. Students know all too well what it’s like to have administrators and bosses who refuse to listen to us and meet our needs. While we fight for our rights and needs on our campuses, rail workers are fighting for their rights and needs on and off the job. Students have picked our side, we stand with the rail workers, and we’ll be with them until this battle’s won.
Respect the right to strike!
Hands off rail workers and their unions!
Paid sick days for rail workers now!